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March 15, 2001 - March 16, 2001

Collection of tax suffers due to drought, quake Friday, March 16, 2001

RAJKOT: The Income-Tax (I-T) collection target has suffered a major set back due to the second consecutive year of drought in the region, said Commissioner of I-T, Rajkot Vedanand Jha.
Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, Jha said the I-T collection for last year was Rs 385 crore against the revised target of Rs 415 crore. He said the initial target for financial year 2000-2001 was fixed at Rs 505 crore. The target was lowered to Rs 380 crore after the second consecutive year of drought and the devastating earthquake. Against this, the actual collection the I-T achieved was Rs 238 crore only.

He said the I-T collection from Gandhidham and Kandla was disturbed after the earthquake and hence the collection in February this year was much below expectation. He also admited that the 1/6 scheme launched by the department in Jamnagar and Bhavnagar did not get desired response. He said only 300 returns were filed under this scheme. Any person who owns a house, a telephone, a car among others should file returns, but only 300 people came forward to file the returns, he added.

About the PAN numbers he said 95 per cent were allotted the PAN card and those left out would be issued shortly. He said out of the 4,92,492 applications received for PAN, 4,62,479 cards were issued, of which 17,700 were found to have defect.

Jha said a seminar on `Provisions of Law Relating to Deduction of Tax at Source' is being organised by the I-T department on Thursday. The seminar will be held at the Hemu Gadhvi Mini theatre from 11 am to 1 pm.

The purpose of the seminar is to educate tax deductors on deduction of correct tax at source. The first session will deal with law and procedure relating to tax deduction at source and the second session will discuss the penal consequences of non deduction of tax followed by a question-answer session.

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Bank bust -- depositors suffer from withdrawal symptoms Thursday, March 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: More than Rs 150 crore deposits were withdrawn today as a mania of panic withdrawals gripped the city. Depositors of more than a dozen co-operative banks queued up outside the banks since early morning to take away their money. The closure of Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank (MMCB) on Tuesday set cagey depositors of all co-operative banks in the city running.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today registered a criminal complaint against MMCB chairman Ramesh Nandlal Parekh and other officials of the bank for not furnishing information and dishonouring disclosure norms.

RBI officials also met Cooperatives Minister Ramanlal Vora and Chief Secretary LNS Mukundan, requesting them to get the bank to open its branches and provide security, if necessary.

Unnerved by the panic withdrawals from MMCB, banks opened on a very cautious note in the morning after clearing house activity was paralysed and Rule 11 was invoked on Tuesday on the MMCB only to find hundreds of depositors lining up outside.

Depositors of the Kalupur Co-operative Bank queued up at all its branches and withdrawals continued at Visnagar Co-operative Bank, Ahmedabad Mercantile Bank, Nutan Nagrik Sahakari Bank, Ahmedabad District Co-operative Bank, Bhagyoday Bank, Charotar Nagarik and nearly a dozen other co-operative banks.

All banks, however, honoured their commitments today to repay depositors on demand and paid up more than Rs 150 crore till late evening. Meanwhile, clearing house activity returned to normal today after being suspended on Tuesday and total high value cheques of Rs 1,122 crore were cleared.

At the Kalupur Bank Satellite Road branch, more than 300 depositors waited under the sun to withdraw deposits. Security personnel had a tough time containing crowds at the Ahmedabad mercantile bank on the Nehrunagar road while at the Nutan Nagarik Sahakari bank's branches depositors were angry that only one person at a time was being allowed inside. Except for a couple of flared tempers at a couple of banks the situation remained normal.

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Suicide sets off controversy at pharmacy dept Thursday, March 15, 2001

VADODARA: The alleged suicide by a girl student of the pharmacy department of M.S. University's (MSU) Faculty of Technology & Engineering has raked up a major controversy. Student leaders at the faculty are alleging that the student committed suicide because of an ``unnecessarily tough examination system of the department''.
The leaders held a condolence meeting on Wednesday to mourn the deceased Asmee Patel, a resident of Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad. Patel had committed suicide by hanging herself on Tuesday at her residence in Ahmedabad.

The girl had an admission in the P.G. Hall of the Girls Hostels here.

MSU Students' Union general-secretary Bharat Dangar said that parents of the student had revealed that she was upset due to her bad performance in the examination.

"She was a good student and had fared well earlier. However, this time she was allowed to keep term in two subjects," Dangar said.


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Water flows, but in a canal leaky Thursday, March 15, 2001

The Narmada waters have not only sent a wave of jubilation, but they have also exposed chinks in the main canal. Water started flowing through the main canal last fortnight: more than 10 years after it was constructed.
Water has been leaking through cracks in the sections of the canal when it crosses rivulets. In Oniyadri village, the leak from the slabdrain resembles a waterfall.

The waters have already covered about one-third length of the 460-km-long canal. The canal crosses scores of rivulets along the way, and water has been leaking through most of the cracks that have developed at construction joints over the years.

The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited claims that water was leaking through holes drilled by villagers in the portions of slab above rivulets. The Nigam admits that other reason could be lack of maintenance of the structure that was lying unused for years.

Nigam's chief engineer (main canal) P.M. Patel claimed he was aware of the leakage. ``The damage is not at all serious. The canal is safe,'' he claimed. ``We did not do any maintenance all these years,'' he admitted. He claimed the PVC waterstops meant to plug the joints were removed by villagers.

Patel said chemical grouting was enough to plug the leaks.

He said Nigam planned to deploy security personnel at vulnerable points. ``It is easy for villagers to identify such spots and make a hole,'' he said adding, ``the leaks will be shortly taken care of.'' He said the repair cost was not much. The repair work will be taken up only when water stops flowing into the canal, he said.

It is likely that the authorities might decide by May 15 not to pump water anymore into the canal. Nigam official admitted the precious drinking water was being wasted.

However, a former engineer of the Nigam told The Indian Express that it was very much possible that the cracks might widen when hydraulic pressure goes up. Presently, water is being released only at the rate of 200 or 300 cusecs.

The only beneficiaries are animals who have found in the streams emanating from under the canal a permanent source to quench their thirst. Jeevan Tadvi of Oniyadri village said his animals had a tough time till a week back. Barely a kilometre from his village, the water-leak has come as a godsend for him and his cattle.

Shantaben Tadvi of Tondalja village has also been taking her cattle to one such pond that was created near her village more than a week ago. She said she would never force her cattle to drink water directly from the canal but was happy with the spin-off.

A resident of Vedpur village near Bodeli shot back in anger when asked whether the villagers could have drilled holes in the canal base.

Some villagers might deny the allegations but The Indian Express team was witness to many ponds that have come up along the canal in the last fortnight.

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Congress demonstrates over Tehelka revelations Thursday, March 15, 2001

VADODARA: The uproar caused by Tehelka.com's disclosures continued when the city unit Congress on Wednesday demonstrated near Mandvi shouting slogans against the government ruling party and Samata Party leaders for their alleged involvement in a fictitious arms deal brought out by the website on Tuesday. City level Congress leaders said that the demonstration was just an exercise to create an awareness amongst people.
``We are nobody to take decisions, on whether the BJP should rule or it should quit. It is the people who will have to decide, our job is just to make them conscious about the situation,'' said Anuj Patel, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) treasurer. Patel said that this expose had made people aware about who should be trusted. He added, holding demonstrations in the streets was a national level exercise and the city was no exception.

Senior leaders of the party said that such expose by media was only making the task easier for Congress. ``We do not have to work hard for coming back to power, the BJP and Samata are giving it to us on the platter. We are just waiting to come back to power again,'' said the leader. Congress leaders added that in the next few days they will continue to hold such demonstrations and shout slogans in various parts of the city.

``We know that the people have grasped the reality but this is just an exercise to let the people know that Congress was the better alternative for people,'' said a senior city unit Congress leader.

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